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Friday, April 06, 2012

Forecasting and Prophecy 2

Consequent to:
{Once more: notes to myself. Difficult to read and lacking in a clear plan and logic}

The answer to my question is probably just: one cannot assign an exact time to something which has not happened yet. OK. I agree with that. The future is probabilistic.

It turns out that dates in the past are not as clear as we think they are, either. The exact date of the invention of the wheel comes to mind: it is very imprecise.

Exact dating seems to be a function of temporal data - or time-and-date-stamp data - that is available. Lacking a sufficient amount of time-and-date-stamp data to muck around with, there are no exact assignment of dates.
This obviously poses a problem for the future: how can we assign an exact time to a future event, if we still need some time-and-date-stamp data, which time-and-date-stamp data itself will not be available until some time in the future!??
This increases the burden on prophets and forecasters enormously, if they wish to utter oracular statements with times in them. They need to go to the well of inspiration not just once for some astonishing event, they need to make numerous journeys for time/date information as well.
(How fortuitous the Mayan Calendar end of the world business is: it combines both the future event, the imminent end of everything, as well as a precise calendar date!  Couldn't be nicer.)

I do not think times and dates are all that important about the future state of affairs... unless you are planning a vacation, that is. Read any opinion columns on economics: the range is astounding; there is no general consensus and all the best and brightest do not agree. And no one can tell exactly when some outcome will ocur.
Precision in things as time and dates and exact details is akin to Schrodinger's cat: the proof of exact detail is in the execution of the detailed act. Even prophecies cannot be assigned a truth-value of "True" until they come to pass. We are in the habit of looking at various religious prophecies and thinking of them as being "true" from their intial utterance all the way up to their fulfillment. We look on these things from a privileged perspective of the Monday Morning Quarterback after the game is over, and we tend to take this same perspective and apply it to prophecies about the future yet to come.

Faith and God do not depend on truth-values... even upon the truth-value of the Psalms.
(The time of existence of a prophecy from its utterance until its fulfillment consists of a self-correcting feedback Mishnah-like process by which believers smooth off rough edges, and unbelievers comb-face into roughness.)
It strikes me, then, for example, that the common procedure of trying to instill Faith by demonstrating how many prophecies from the Old Testament forecast the events of the New Testament is a very dubious propaedeutic, which is used to instill a second-hand sense of awe and leads the student to the mistake of thinking that we may delineate the Holy by some sort of emotional feeling.
This is pretty common: one sees people speaking about God as if Awe defines the experience, or Joy at a summer's day defines it, or some Magnificent Dish of Vengeance Served Cold defines it... nothing but the normal attempt to take the profound and make it domestic and "down home".

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